In the classification 1-8 quarterfinals, United States of America took out the first semifinal spot with a nail-biting 10-9 win over Australia who scored a staggering five goals in the last four minutes. Spain held off Canada 12-9 after being 7-2 at halftime. Hungary upset world champion Netherlands in a penalty shootout 13-12 after the match was tied at eight. Greece went through with a spirited 14-11 margin over Italy.
In the classification 9-12 semifinals, China defeated Great Britain 15-10 and New Zealand bounced Kazakhstan 23-8 with Morgan McDowall scoring a tournament-high 11 goals.
In the two classification matches, France downed South Africa 19-8 for 13th place and Brazil beat Singapore 18-2 for 15th.
Classification 1-8 Quarterfinals
Match 37. Hungary 13 Netherlands 12 in penalty shootout (FT: 8-8. Pens: 5-4)
The excitement level just kept going up in the quarterfinals, especially this one where the world and European champion was fighting for its life — and crown. Hungary was dogged, fearless and surgical in its play and eventually allowed the Dutch back into the match where a penalty shootout saw the Dutch dethroned while Hungary had booked an Olympic berth.
Krisztina Garda opened from the top on the first attack. It seemed this was going to be the tone. However, it was five minutes later before Lola Moolhuijzen responded for the Dutch from deep right. It was 1-1 at the quarter break.
There was nothing in the first half of the second quarter except relentless defence. Then Greta Gurisatti broke through from the top left, followed a minute later by a Dorottya Szilagyi (below) shot from deep left. Lieke Rogge scored for the Dutch nine minutes after the previous goal and Hungarian skipper Rita Keszthelyi (above) speared in a rebound from the deep left for 4-2 at 0:21 — the halftime score.
Netherlands called a timeout at 4:29 in the third for no benefit. However, at 3:52, Moolhuijzen made it 4-3 and just over a minute late Lieke Rogge converted a penalty attempt for 4-4. This levelling last two minutes before Szilagyi gained a second from the top, down the right side for 5-4 at 0:40.
After the break, Hungarian coach Atilla Mihok called a timeout on extra and it was Keszthelyi who obliged for 6-4. The Dutch crown was wobbling. At 5:49, Dutch skipper Sabrina van der Sloot finished an extra-man play from deep on the left, the ball just slithering across the line. Laura Aarts had a ball-under call against her, which the Dutch disputed, and Keszthelyi converted the penalty for her third and well over 800 international goals in her long career. The Dutch were frantic on attack, on extra, regained the rebound and whipped it around to Simone van de Kraats in the deep right to score for 7-6 at 4:48. Gurisatti sat up from well outside, when guarded, and drilled it into the top right for 8-6 at 3:21. Game on.
Netherlands gained an extra play. Lieke Rogge speared it to the far right post to sister Bente Rogge who steered it in for 8-7 at 2:47. Aarts made her 14th save on the Hungarian attack and the Dutch went up, gained an exclusion and called a timeout at 1:16. The Dutch shot eventually hit the left upright. Hungary went on attack and the centre-forward shot went right. The Dutch went on attack and with just eight seconds left on the clock, Brigitte Sleeking made the most important pass of her life, finding Maartje Keuning on the left-post position, turning and scoring for 8-8. Hungary took a timeout and the eventual shot was blocked by Aarts, going to the shootout.
The shootout had nine goals scored and then Lieke Rogge had her attempt smacked down by the right hand of Alda Magyari (pictured). Netherlands had been dethroned.
Keszthelyi may have scored three goals in regular play and the first of the shootout, but it was Magyari’s stop that everyone will talk about. Lieke Rogge and Moolhuijzen scored twice each for Netherlands and Aarts finished with 15 saves.
Rally it has to be Keuning’s goal eight seconds from time, which created an impasse that kept the Dutch alive for a few more minutes.
Stats Don’t Lie
Hungary shot 26 to 32 on percentage and still won. On extra, Hungary managed three from 10 and defended eight of 13.
Hungary needed the win to get to the Olympics. The Dutch were just after the semifinal berth. Hungary wanted it more.
What They Said
Natasa Rybanska (HUN) — Penalty Scorer
On how she felt after winning and her team gaining an Olympic berth
“Amazing. So proud of the team and so proud of the progress that we have made since the new coaches came and like they were having reform of the whole team. I am very thankful to be here because for me I am thankful for every play I can play because of my shoulders. “I’m very, very thankful I can even be here. Three months ago, I couldn’t even imagine I could play water polo again and now we are here qualified for the Olympics.
“I’m so, so proud to be a part of this amazing team. It feels like a family. I have never been this happy. It feels wonderful.”
Sabrina van der Sloot (NED) — Captain
On the loss and how tight the match was:
“We knew before we started it was going to be a really tough game and Hungary hadn’t their Olympic spot, so we knew they had a bit more fire inside and I think you could see that during the game.”
On what happens from here for Netherlands:
“Well, I think we still have two difficult games to play and we’ll take the good things from today. We were behind all game and we managed to come back. I think this is positive. We just have to play well and make sure we leave this place with a good feeling.”
Simone van de Kraats (NED) — Goal Scorer
On the loss:
“If you look at the total game there were not a lot of goals for both sides but in the end, we came back and that we could make it to penalties is quite a performance and then it is like a lottery. “
On losing the world title:
“For me personally, it’s not sad to lose the world title. You always want to play for the medals. It’s sad because we know have to play for fifth to eighth place and we always want to be the best, but it’s been a really tough few weeks.”
Match 38. Italy 11 Greece 14
Greece went for it from the opening whistle to make sure it made the top four. And what a match this was, too, with Eirini Ninou, who had 12 goals coming into the match, steered another five across the line.
Greece was 3-0 at the first break and 7-3 at halftime with Italy scoring two goals through Chiara Tabani.
The pressure topped out in the third as both teams fired in four goals with Greece hold three and four-goal margins.
Italy scored the opening two goals of the fourth and it was suddenly a two-goal match. Then Greece had a penalty adjudged not quite across the line before Ninou converted a penalty for her fifth and captain Margarita Plevritou screamed in her third for 13-9 at 3:42. Not out of the woods yet, but a really good margin at a critical period. Italy went to a timeout at 1:42 and a quick goal came from Sofia Giustini from the wide right. Then Domatilla Picozzi scored on extra from the top and it was getting closer, although the clock was ticking down, as the announcers say. Greece and Italy traded goals in the dying seconds and Greece was into the medal finals for the first time in 11 years.
Ninou was the star with five goals, stepping up when most needed. Picozzi grabbed three for Italy.
The starting quarter of 3-0 for Greece was always a problem for Italy.
Stats Don’t Lie
Greece score eight from 11 on extra and defended seven of 15. On the shooting count, Greece went 61 to 43 per cent.
Greece wanted a medal more than Italy wanted to play the Olympics. Harsh, but in this day and age and with what happened in the three previous encounters, a big heart is what is needed for the big games. Greece might have to do without Eleni Xenaki in the next match as she picked up her second red card of the tournament after leaving against China in the third day of women's competition.
What They Said
Alexia Kammenou (GRE) — Head Coach (above)
On making the semifinals:
“Very important for us. It’s a long time since we qualified in the best four teams — 11 years — so thankfully we made it. We played really well in the offence. From the beginning of the game, we controlled it until the end, which is very important. Now we have one day to get prepared for the semifinal.”
On the highlight of tonight:
“I think we have many solutions in the offence. We have very good centres and we have really good shooters, so every defence is getting into trouble trying to stop the ball from the two metres, so I think the solutions we have in offence is obvious.”
Giulia Viacava (ITA) — Athlete
On how the team feels right now
“Very bad. Because we don’t anchor good in game because I think we were 4-1, 5-1. These important competitions, this is not correct, not for the body, not for the brain. So difficult now to speak.”
On what you need to do to qualify for the Olympics:
“Tomorrow is another day and it’s important for belief, belief in ourselves.”
Match 36. Spain 12 Canada 9
Spain came out with one object in mind — get to the semifinals in the easiest way possible. This it did, with a 3-1 first quarter and a halftime lead of 7-2 that would please any team (Mind you Australia was six down and clawed back to one in the previous match).
Judith Forca was the thorn in Canada’s side and she had an interesting start with the first goal, a missed penalty attempt, followed by a rebound goal. Serena Browne responded from deep left and Anni Espar converted extra for 3-1, still at 3:48. There were no more goals as both teams tightened their defences.
Paul Crespi chipped in for 4-1 to start the second period. Elyse Lemay-Lavoie sent in the ball from two metres on extra. Elena Ruiz, with only three goals coming into the match, scored twice from the same position and Paula Leiton added another on extra from two metres for 7-2 by halftime
Spanish captain Maica Garcia took it to 8-2 on extra from the top left and Axelle Crevier scored on extra. Canada went to a timeout for no joy and Forca sent one in for 9-3 at 2:52. Canada would have heard about Australia’s revival, so Marilla Mimides squeezed one in from deep left and Verica Bakoc made it 9-5 at 0:39.
On the restart, Canada was on the offensive with Crevier sending one in cross cage for 9-6. Would it be possible to narrow it even further? Leftie Forca dimmed those chances with a blast at 4:17. Forca did it again at 2:49 and Canada went to a timeout, five goals behind. Canada sent all its team up, had the shot blocked and the Spanish attempt to fire the length of the field into an empty goal failed. On the next Canadian attack, Crevier scored her third but the reply came from Spain through Ariadne Ruiz at 1:44. Shae La Roche sent in the last two goals for Canada and Spain had the quarterfinal win at 12-9.
Forca with five goals was the dominating factor, who just kept hammering in nails and Martina Terra made nine saves in goal. Crevier totalled three for Canada.
From 7-2 at halftime to 9-3 in the third made it a tough ask for Canada to pull all those goals back.
Stats Don’t Lie
Spain converted four from seven on extra-man attack and defended four of eight. On shooting, Spain went 41 to 35 on percentage.
Spain is the world No 2. It has runs on the board. It has the desire to go to the final and win. It showed this tonight, even though it handed much of the responsibility to Forca.
What They Said
Isabel Piralkova (ESP) — Athlete
On making the semifinal:
“Yes, we are happy because we reached our goal. We are now in the semifinal and Canada did a great game. We knew we had to win but they are a strong team and put things that were difficult for us.”
On things to work on:
“Well, we have USA and they have an amazing team and they are so strong. I think we have to practise if they can go to press first, but we’re going to practise what we’re doing in the tournament because that is the key.”
David Paradelo (CAN) — Head Coach
On the good points:
“Relentlessness. Playing with their hearts. That’s all I can ask from the team. We started a little slow in the beginning and picked up the pace as the game went on.”
Jessica Gaudreault (CAN) — Goalkeeper
On the slow start:
“I think it took a little while to get that fire under our arse. That was basically it. We just let one girl beat us. That’s kind of tough.”
On the biggest point to take away:
“The biggest thing is to start how we did in the second half and kind of learning how to channel that energy and that fight and not kind of work into it; starting from the get-go.”
Match 35. United States of America 10 Australia 9
USA kept its championship quest intact, but it could have gone differently if Australia had discovered its shooting talents a fraction earlier. It was one of the weirdest finishes to a quarterfinal in history.
Maggie Steffens put USA in front, because that’s what captains do. The Aussie Stingers responded with the next two — Charlize Andrews with a sneak shot and Alice Williams on extra — and Jenna Flynn finished with an equaliser 2:14 from time. It was a big shooting opening quarter with both teams testing the other.
The second quarter witnessed another captain’s goal with Zoe Arancini countering, shooting an then backhanding the rebound into goal for 3-2lead at 6:26. USA then managed to shut down Australia with Jenna Flynn, Maddie Musselman on penalty and Musselman again on extra for 5-3 at 3:56 for the halftime score.
It became easier for USA in the third with plenty of space for the centre forwards to move for ejections. Musselman put away a penalty, Steffens scored off extra man and Jovanna Sekulic received clean ball for a centre-forward goal at 1:13. An Australian timeout only led to a turnover.
Jordan Raney and Jewel Roemer sandwiched an Alice Williams goal early in the fourth period before the Aussies found their sting and slotted five straight — Abby Andrews with two, captain Arancini with her second and then Sienna Green from the top and Green again with a lob from the right side for 10-9 by 0:37. Rachel Fattal hit the crossbar from centre forward and Australia called a timeout at 0:08. Bronte Halligan took the shot and it was blocked before it could reach the goal and USA was through to the medal round after a spectacular final quarter by Australia.
Ashleigh Johnson made 11 goalkeeper saves for the USA and Musselman nailed three goals in the victory. For Australia, Abby Andrews, Arancini and Green scored twice each.
USA from 3-2 down to 9-3 ahead early in the fourth as Australia went 16 and a half minutes without a goal. Then, of course, there was that little matter of the five goals by the Aussies that nearly had them surfing into the quarterfinals.
Stats Don’t Lie
The shooting percentages were low at 37-30 in favour of the USA and the extra-man count had USA at five from nine and Australia three from six.
USA always seems to win the close ones while the Aussies were hoping to do a kangaroo hop over the fence in the final quarter. Both performances are most interesting in Olympic year.
What They Said
Maggie Steffens (USA) — Captain/Two Goals
On being an odd finish to a match at this level:
“We put in a really solid three quarters. I think we were evenly matched in the first and then second and third I think we did a really good job and they clearly pressed us in the fourth quarter — 5-0 or 5-1, if I would guess — Australia’s always one of our toughest rivals and we know we’ll always get their best and clearly that’s what we got.
Jenna Flynn (USA) — Two Goals
On the last quarter:
“Maggie (Steffens) said it, but Australia is a really talented team and with a six- goal lead you can have some lapses. We just had to pull it together and play some good defence. So, yeah, it was a tough game. Something to learn from, for sure.”
Bronte Halligan (AUS) — Goal Scorer
On USA having more success at centre forward:
“I think we had a different game plan in defence and it kind of showed in the game, I guess. There were different quarters for each of the teams. The US did a really good job of protecting their centre backs. It’s definitely something for us to work on, but it was a great fightback. I’m really proud of the girls.”
On being positive about the last quarter:
“It’s never easy to lose a game. It’s always bittersweet, but it was a really, really brave effort by the girls and I’m proud of them that we put up that fight until the very end. Coming from six goals down in the last quarter is kind of a tough gig and it’s something we can work on. Of course, we wanted to win, but you’ve got to be proud of the effort we put up there and we gave it to the US until the end.”
Classification 9-12 Semifinals
Match 34. Kazakhstan 8 New Zealand 23
The Morgan McDowall factor kicked in as New Zealand shot away to a 5-0 lead, which became 6-2 at the first break and 11-3 at halftime. McDowall scored four in the quarter and the first two of the second quarter before she was rested. Three team-mates stepped into the breach to score before halftime.
McDowall came back at the start of the third and scored the first on a drive with a pinpoint pass from Gabrielle Milicich. Her eighth goal came off a backhand at two metres soon after Kazakhstan scored off extra, thanks to Yelizaveta Rudneva. Kaitlin Howarth took up the reins with three goals by the final break and the 16th goal went to… yes, McDowall. Anastassiya Mirshina gained her second on extra at 17-6.
The final quarter was equally busy with the Kiwis missing a penalty chance; McDowall picking up her 10th at centre forward; Bernadette Doyle for a second and McDowall with the last off a brilliant, long-angled pass to the left post. Anna Novikova and Mirshina with her third, closed Kazakhstan’s scoring.
In a team of high achievers, McDowall rose above the rest and threw an incredible 11 goals with two of them being the result of brilliant feeding. It boosted her tally to 27, easily the highest in Doha.
Putting McDowall into the water. Her dominance forced the match into New Zealand’s favour.
Stats Don’t Lie
New Zealand shot 55 per cent to 31 per cent and in the extra-man plays, the Kiwis converted four from nine to Kazakhstan’s 5 from 12 — a few percentage points better.
New Zealand has been the better team in recent years and will be wanting to assert itself in the play-off for ninth.
What They Said
Emily Nicholson (NZL) — 50th International Match
On how long it took to amass 50 matches:
“I’ve been in the senior team since 2018, so we have been lucky enough to fit in a lot of international tournaments in the last couple of years.”
On today’s match and going to the ninth-place classification:
“That was always our goal, to go as far as a New Zealand team has ever done and that would be ninth, so to take the next step, showing that we are above Kazakhstan. We’ve come a long way since playing them over the years, so we’re ready to take that ninth position (against China on Wednesday).”
Anna Novikova (KAZ) — Goal Scorer
On losing to the Kiwis:
“We could have definitely played much better; we lost, but we will work much harder to seek another win.”
On what did not go right today:
“I have no answer to that. We prepared for this match, but New Zealand was better today.”
Match 3. China 15 Great Britain 10
China kept Great Britain at bay with steady play, leading 4-2 at the break, 9-5 at halftime and 11-6 at the final break.
Great Britain was in the play and working hard to make plays, scoring from two metres and sending in bombs from outside. China, under the watchful eye of Olympic-winning coach Juan Jane, lifted through the tournament and presented an excellent outfit today.
Cecily Turner and Katy Cutler scored a double at the start of the second quarter and Cutler gained an extra after Nong Sanfeng scored China’s sixth goal. With the Chinese at a four-goal advantage by halftime, it was a tough ask for the Brits to strike back.
Turner and Brooke Tafazolli closed it to 11-8 before captain Zhang Jing slipped into the right-post position and tapped in an air ball. Nong sent it to 13-8; Anya Clapperton and Turner brought it back to three by 2:17 only for China to score twice through Zhang Jng in the final minute.
Xiong, Nong and captain Zhang topped the Chinese scoring with three each. Turner was Great Britain’s best with three.
China was always in front and just seemed to slip in more goals even though the shooting statistics was not vast. Making three goals at the break and four by halftime made it hard for the Brits to fight back, although they doubled their score in the second half, showing consistency.
Stats Don’t Lie
China shot 48 to 40 on percentage and put away a magnificent eight from 11 on extra-man attack. Great Britain made two from five.
China has the experience, despite the Covid era, and Great Britain had the recent experience of playing the European championships.
What They Said
Xiong Dunhan (CHN) — Three Goals
On the match:
“It was very hard today and we respected our opposition. This game was very good for us.”
On the lead-up to Paris 2024:
“In China there are not many water polo games (to play). This is practice for our team; also for our new players to improve their experience is very good.”
Cecily Turner (GBR) — Four Goals
On the match:“I'm happy that we worked really hard today as a team. We came into this game knowing that we could push them, and we really wanted to get a good result today going into the next game.
On always being within range of China:
“We just talked about being controlled and being patient in our offence. A win is always the objective.”
On what gave you the most trouble:
“I think their six on five “
On what did you did really well:
“I think just being patient and working together.
On how the experience is for the team:
“It's a great experience. A lot of us have never been to a world championships before, so we're all just loving the experience.”
Match 32. France 19 South Africa 8
France took the match by the scruff, racing to 5-0 at the quarter and turning at 10-3 and finishing the third at 16-6.
South Africa was shell shocked, but took stock, rattled in consecutive goals for 6-2 and slapped in a third at 9-3. South Africa took the lead in the third period, moving to 12-6 before four unanswered French goals — two from Ema Vernoux and another from her sister Lily Vernoux — for 16-6 at the last break.
The Africans fired in the first two of the fourth, thanks to Yanah Gerber and Amber Penney. Ema Vernoux scored here fifth to close all scoring at 19-8, six seconds from the final buzzer.
Ema Vernoux with five goals — 12 for the tournament —and Hertzka with four (11), led the charge for France. Versfeld (9 in Doha) and Gerber (6) scored twice each for South Africa. Penney finished with six.
France going 6-0 at the start proved the killer.
Stats Don’t Lie
France went 53 to 32 percentage on shooting and converted two from five on extra and defended five of eight.
France was the team to win as the host of the Olympics this year. Interesting to note that both teams will be in Paris and they were playing for 13th here. France was unhappy with the result and South Africa buoyed by the fact that it has not had any training before here and now goes into national championships and training camps.
What They Said
Theodoros Lorantos (FRA) — Head Coach
On the tournament:
“First of all, it’s a pleasure to be here in Qatar with such a huge organisation. We were here with more ambitions. We came out wiser for our ambitions for the Paris Olympic Games.”
Ema Vernoux (FRA) — Five Goals
On how this prepared the team for Paris 2024:
“It was a big competition for us to improve before the Olympics. Of course, we did a lot of mistakes. It wasn’t the result that we wanted, but we will learn from it and be stronger.”
On the break before getting back into training for Paris:
“Ten days. We are going to play the Champions League and the French championship, as well.”
Megan Sileno (RSA) — Captain
On how the team improved from match to match:
“The focus was for us to play our game and shut down the counter defence and show that we can do six-on-six defence as we knew their man-up was really good. I think we did that really well. We managed to get some front water on the defence, which was great, and managed to do some nice blocking, which hasn’t been happening. I wish we had a whole week of international polo before we got to the championships, because we do get better and better, playing together.”
Match 31. Brazil 18 Singapore 2
Brazil had the match of Singapore and nearly went through with a clean sheet after some smart play. Singapore tried its best throughout but could not get a shot into a scoring opportunity in the first three quarters.
Brazil whipped through the periods 4-0, 2-0, 4-0 and 8-2.
It showed that Singapore was busy on defence, especially limiting Brazil to two goals in the second period with both goals coming inside the final two minutes.
The match came alight in the fourth period as Brazil maintained its steady romp, but Singapore had a handful of meaningful shots, too. A Singapore penalty-goal attempt was sent over the top; Wan Lim converted the second penalty for the first goal at 12-1 and less than a minute later, Heather Lee scored for 13-2. Brazil lifted considerably and blasted in the next five for a 8-2 final period.
With Brazil on top from the start and denying Singapore any chance to score early on, it was really the opening whistle.
Stats Don’t Lie
Brazil went 53 and Singapore 11 in percentage shooting. Brazil was one from one on extra-man attack and defended all five Singaporean attempts.
Brazil looked the stronger team throughout the tournament and the victory was assured.
What They Said
Leticia Belorio (BRA) — Captain
On the tournament:
“The tournament in general was for us to have experience. We had a rough bracket with USA and Netherlands. Our objective was to go in hard against Kazakhstan. However, we didn’t get that victory. Not a big deal. The tournament is all about experience for us, improving, but our team is very, very new. It’s a brand new experience for all of us.”
On looking toward Singapore 2025:
“We hope to be a little bit better for next year. There will probably be about five more additions with the same, exact team and we’re looking for a better result.”
Abielle Yeo (SGP) — Captain
On the tournament:
“For our team it was definitely something that was historic for our country because this is the first time that we have ever qualified for a World Aquatics championship, so it is an honour o be here. The whole competition has been an eye-opener and a learning experience for us. It’s the first time that we have played these teams of a high level. So, for every single game we improved a bit and learnt a lot. Experiencing man-to-man defence, this has been a great chance for us to learn.”
On having the cohort return for next year’s championships:
“Yes, definitely. Next year we are hosting the championships in Singapore and definitely really, really excited to welcome everybody to our country as well, so this team will definitely be looking to improve and we hope to show everyone how much we have grown when you guys come to Singapore.”
Day 11 Schedule
Match 39. 09:00. Classification 11-12, GBR v KAZ
Match 40. 10:30. Classification 9-10, CHN v NZL
Match 41. 12:00. Classification 5-8 Semifinal, AUS v ITA
Match 42. 14:30. Classification 5-8 Semifinal, NED v CAN
Match 43. 16:00. Classification 1-4 Semifinal, USA v ESP
Match 44. 17:30. Classification 1-4 Semifinal, HUN v GRE